Being aware of the dangers and knowing how to cope with cardiac arrest could save someone’s life.
Subject to common preconceptions, cardiac arrest can affect anyone regardless of their health or age. Unfortunately, up to 16 young people die each week due to sudden cardiac arrest (Malhotra and Rakhit, 2013).
Like many other life-threatening conditions, cardiac arrest survival rates are significantly higher when the patient is treated as soon as symptoms begin. The potential of damage to the brain and other organs is also significantly reduced when immediate action is taken.
In the UK, the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital is believed to be lower than 5% (Arrhythmia Alliance The Heart Rhythm Charity, 2013). Defibrillation, along with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), is the only way to re-establish the heart’s natural rhythm and it can increase these survival chances to more than 50% (Arrhythmia Alliance The Heart Rhythm Charity, 2013). For this reason all dental professionals are required to have the skills to help those experiencing a medical emergency.
In 2013, the Resuscitation Council issued new guidelines specific to primary dental care, focusing on the requirements for cardiac pulmonary resuscitation.
As such, there are now two main elements that you need to be aware of: quality standards for practice and training, and the new minimum equipment list.
The first change highlights the need for all members of the dental team to be trained in dealing with medical emergencies. As a patient could collapse on the premises at any time it is essential that all staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to help. This training should include instruction on the differences between CPR given to a child and an adult, and up-to-date evidence of courses taken should be possessed and easily accessible.
Secondly, all clinical areas are required to have access to oxygen, resuscitation equipment for airway management including suction, and an automated external defibrillator (AED). The AED should have internal data storage facilities and standardised consumables such as adhesive electrode pads and connecting cables, enabling all practice staff to attempt defibrillation safely if necessary. While AED equipment is suitable for children of eight years old and above, some may have paediatric pads suitable for children of one to eight years old, which would be an important consideration for your practice if you regularly treat young patients.
Register your AED equipment
It is also now recommended that AED equipment be registered with your local ambulance service, so that it can be quickly located in case of an emergency within the immediate community.
With regards to oxygen cylinders, these should be easily portable but allow for an adequate flow rate until the arrival of the ambulance. It is worth also putting a protocol in place for situations where a second cylinder is needed, if there is a risk of the first running out.
In order to ensure your practice can respond to such situations, frequent audits should be carried out for the equipment and other elements of health and safety.
To make sure every member of your team has the necessary knowledge and skills to save someone’s life, and that you have all the correct equipment, contact DBG for more information today.
Arrhythmia Alliance The Heart Rhythm Charity. (2013) Survey Results, [Online], Available: http://www.heartrhythmcharity.org.uk/www/683/0/Survey_results/ [Accessed 4 April 2014].
Malhotra, A. and Rakhit, R. (2013) ‘Improving the UK’s performance on survival after cardiac arrest’, BMJ, Vol. 347, Iss. 7919, pp. f4800.
For more information call DBG on 01606 861 950, or visit www.thedbg.co.uk.